Established in Shropshire in 1969, Filtermist International manufactures and markets a range of oil mist collectors which are used to keep industrial workplace air clean.
Filtermist units use centrifugal force to filter and collect harmful particles of oil mist generated in a wide range of manufacturing applications in sectors including aerospace and automotive, medical technologies, food production and defence.
The company currently sells its products into more than 60 countries worldwide through a network of global distributors and cites some of the world’s leading manufacturers amongst its customer base.
Demand for Filtermist units is continuing to grow in a number of key locations around the world, thanks in part to an increasing awareness of the importance of protecting workers’ health from harmful toxins, and the contribution effective extraction can make in reducing external air pollution.
The Market Opportunity
Filtermist recognised the need to export its products from the outset – the UK’s manufacturing sector was simply never going to be able offer enough opportunities for the ambitious company to meet its expansion targets.
The logic was simple – our products are used in manufacturing applications, so any countries with significant manufacturing output were/are markets for us to target.
We identified opportunities in the Southeast Asian market very early on in the company’s development and began trading in the region more than 25 years ago. Unlike the Western World, ASEAN markets have not experienced economic downturn in recent years and industries including aerospace are thriving, allowing UK businesses such as Filtermist to explore the potential for growth that can be created by exporting to this region.
Japan was one of the first countries we approached because of the high number of machine tools produced and fact that we had local contacts through our distributors in Europe and USA.
In China we developed a relationship with our distributor through contacts at the UK trade organisation, the MTA (Machine Technology Association) in the early noughties and the business has grown very quickly over the years.
We recently recruited a dedicated Business Development Manager for China and moved to new offices in Shanghai to help support sales throughout the country which is now our largest export market outside the US and Europe.
A joint venture established in Singapore in 2005 quickly developed strong ties with key machine tool manufacturers in the ASEAN region and in recent years demand for Filtermist units from ASEAN manufacturers has increased to such an extent that we decided to restructure the business in the region to ensure we can make the most of the opportunities on offer.
Taiwan business has grown well in recent years, mainly in line with the growth in their machine tool industry. Around 80% of the units our distributor Easton Engineering, sell into Taiwan are sold on to machine tool manufacturers, who in turn often export the products to the West or into China.
There is a similar pattern in South Korea which has been a more recent success story where our distributor has been making considerable inroads into the Korean machine tool market and continues to take market share from the local competition.
A brand new wholly owned subsidiary company, Filtermist Asia Pte Ltd, supports sales in Singapore and has been tasked with developing business in a number of high-growth markets including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines where official distributors have all been recently appointed.
Identifying suitable distributors
We work closely with a number of third parties, including UKTI and MTA, when selecting new distributors to ensure we only enter into supply agreements with companies that will provide new opportunities for our products.
Filtermist works hard to ensure our distributors are informed about all of the latest product and company developments. We hosted the inaugural ‘Distributor Awards’ at a high-profile international trade show last year and feature a different distributor every month in the ‘spotlight focus’ in our monthly distributor email newsletter.
From translated, locally hosted websites and marketing materials, to exhibition artwork, presentation templates and international PR support – we invest a significant amount of resource into ensuring our distributors have 24/7 access to all of the tools needed to support sales of our products.
Filtermist’s UK team provides wide-ranging practical support whenever required. We help man exhibition stands at international shows, undertake customer visits, provide product training and technical support and have a number of multi-lingual staff, tasked with ensuring relationships with our distributors remain productive.
We make full use of all available technologies in our day to day dealings around the world – from Skype and video conference calls to providing mobile apps and downloadable marketing materials, the digital revolution has made trading overseas far easier than ever previously possible.
Go for it!
Have faith in your products and abilities. Go out and grasp opportunities with both hands – he who dares wins!